20. The Before Trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013)
December 18th, 2017 by Aaron Neuwirth
Taking a cue from Why So Blu’s Jason Coleman and his picks for his favorite movie posters of the year, this seemed like a fun idea at the time, but it turned out to be a bigger challenge than anticipated. The Criterion Collection currently releases roughly 60-70 films a year. Some of these are reissues, which were omitted from this list (sorry Le Samouraiand Straw Dogs) but others are completely new to the collection, and with that, you get some brand new cover art. For the sake of this post, I have decided to remove any cover art that was simply the original theatrical poster (Sorry Being Thereand Barry Lyndon), as I wanted to focus on the new interpretations for certain classics and acclaimed contemporary releases by way of the artwork associated with them. So without further ado, here are the top 20.
This is a tough one to put so low on the list (although it made the final cut). The box is a nice subtle way to convey what this trilogy accomplishes, but the art for the individual films just doesn’t quite hit the write marks as far as how it depicts the characters.
Part of what anyone can see with Criterion is how simple a lot of their art is. This one is a bit more busy, but one still grasps at how boredom and degrade a person through the image of a man sinking in a chair.
Francis Ford Coppola’s spiritual and much artsier follow-up to The Outsider holds onto the dreamlike tone in this cover, which helps to emphasize the emotion present throughout this film.
The beautiful blend of colors does an excellent job of portraying the eccentricity found in a film about a noodle-shop owner in search of the perfect recipe.
Sacha Guitry’s wonderful dark comedy has a great cover placing this sour married couple front and center with these comic portrayals, highlighting their bitterness, as well as the ways they plan to dispatch each other.
This modern comedy classic captures the eagerness of Tracy Flick’s character in a simple item; a cupcake designed to win over another vote she desperately wants so she can hold office as high school president.
I’ve yet to see Marcel Pagnol’s Marseille trilogy, but these are lovely hand-drawn images featuring a limited bust specific amount of color that show me the films present sentimental tales of love in everyday life.
The Daniel Clowes artwork from his original comic was the perfect choice for a proper cover on this Criterion release of the wonderfully sardonic Terry Zwigoff cult favorite teenage comedy.
A few screwball comedies made their way to Criterion this year, but this George Stevens film has the most creative cover. The placement of the seal amidst this symbolic cutout presentation of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s characters is a nice touch for sure.
Another example of simplicity; if you are familiar with the plot, you understand the distortion of the light appearing on Kristen Stewart and her expression matches the character’s disposition as she seeks closure and solace, following the death of her brother.
One of Hitchcock’s earliest films receives a cover that reflects the silent film era by way of some roughly drawn characters and a silhouette. The color contrast is nice, and the implications are quite clever.
At first glance, I believed this to be a still image, before looking closer. Taking in more of what this cover art had to offer, the Ernest Hemingway adaptation is given the proper look of a thriller featuring a captain making some very specific choices in his life. The rifle, blurred in the foreground, only helps.
It’s back-to-back Michael Curtiz films, as Mildred Pierce is also given considerable treatment as far as emphasizing the nourish angles for this character-study of a hardworking mother. Showing Mildred in one of her lowest moments, while wrapped in that fur coat is a great single image, and the colors are wonderfully chosen.
The idea of using a pastel painting (or perhaps watercolor) is kind of perfect for this subtle triptych that emphasizes multiple stories about the isolation and loneliness of a few Montana-based women in their lives.
I dig the use of color for the apartment building that plays a significant role in this Palme d’Or winner. The striking image of Dheepan in the foreground, as he gives a signal to the ominous figures on the top of the building says a lot about the sort of tension to be found in this film as well.
This is the one entry on this list where the cover made me want to see the film, despite knowing nothing about it at the time. A political movie from Mexico, Canoa’s art features a clever use of a priests costume to show the corruption and violence that’s about to emerge.
It is always interesting to note the choices made when it comes to adding new Andrei Tarkovsky films to The Criterion Collection and his final film has been given a clever cover design. While alluding to an aspect of the story and conceptual ideas, it’s an alluring but straightforward image that works for this film.
This cover art likely wins for being the coolest addition to Criterion, as the blue tint over this very noir-ish imagery easily makes you think it belongs on the shelf with other pulp novels.
This is such a simple idea that evokes the main imagery associated with the original posters for this film. Still, this Robert Bresson drama does have a focus on how various people deal with a counterfeit bill and the depiction of this exchange conveys this action front and center.
I did not know what I would end up with as my number one pick, but it became clear that 45 Years was the one to land at the top of the list. The image is incredibly specific to an event that sets the film in motion, but the idea of this imagery serving as the cover for this movie evokes so much about what’s going on with the marriage seen in the film, especially following a particular revelation that I applaud whoever Criterion found to come up with this idea.
Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.
For those of us who can remember buying Spine #3 (Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes) or renting Spine #21 (David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers) when they were new, it can be hard to believe that The Criterion Collection, that venerable repository of classic cinema, is about to release its 1000th title, a kaiju-sized 15-film set of Japanese Godzilla pictures.
In the decades since the Criterion Collection debuted, the company has become the gold standard in home video, both in terms of the quality of their titles and the quality of their laserdiscs, DVDs, and Blu-rays — which are filled with extensive supplementary materials and wrapped in gorgeous box art. The list that follows celebrates the 50 best Criterion Collection covers (at least according to the staff of ScreenCrush).
If some of your favorites don’t make the cut, don’t be upset — at least through Spine #1000, there’s almost no wrong answer to the question of the best Criterion covers. Also, I promise to update this list when Criterion hits Spine #2000, which — and I’m calling this now — will be a handsome two-disc set of their era’s two most revered motion pictures: Space Jam and Space Jam 2.
Gallery — The Worst Movie Posters in History:
Collection covers criterion
- Grom white walls
- Gemini tattoos
- Coastal meadows minis
- Choate pistol grip
- Free stresser panel
- Source connect nexus